Zoosk sold for $255 million

Spark Networks to acquire Zoosk, sees adjusted EBITDA to exceed $50M in 2020

Spark Networks (LOV) announced its entry into a definitive agreement to acquire Zoosk.

Zoosk shareholders will receive $95 million in cash, Stockwinners

The combination will drive a meaningful increase in Spark’s scale, with over one million monthly paying subscribers across the two platforms. Spark expects the transaction to drive meaningful margin expansion in 2020 and beyond.

“Zoosk is one of the strongest dating apps in the North American market, which comprises half of the $5B global online dating opportunity,” said Jeronimo Folgueira, Chief Executive Officer of Spark Networks SE.

“Similarly, North America has been a key strategic market for Spark, and the focal point for our growth initiatives. Our deal with Zoosk creates the second largest online dating platform in North America and the second largest publicly-listed dating company in the world.

Spark buys Zoosk for $255 million, Stockwinners

Over the past 18 months, our management team has successfully integrated acquisitions and developed new brands. As a result of these efforts, our brand portfolio now includes SilverSingles, which continues to exceed our expectations, and the Christian Mingle, Jdate and JSwipe brands, which have all shown significant improvement since they were acquired in late 2017.

Our acquisition of Zoosk is the most transformative deal in our history, and we expect the transaction to immediately strengthen our position in the online dating market. With the increased scale that results from the combination, we see a clear path to profitability improvements and greater opportunity to invest in innovation and growth initiatives that will drive shareholder value.”

With the addition of Zoosk, Spark will more than double in size and the combined business will be considerably more valuable than the two stand-alone entities: Following the completion of its integration plans, Spark expects to drive significant Adjusted EBITDA margin expansion.

In 2020, Spark expects Adjusted EBITDA to exceed $50M. Under the terms of the agreement, Spark will acquire 100% of Zoosk’s shares with a combination of cash and stock valuing the company at approximately $255M based on the closing price of Spark Networks SE stock on March 20.

Spark will issue 12.98M American Depository Shares valued at approximately $150M based on the closing price of Spark Networks SE stock of $11.53 on March 20.

Additionally, Zoosk shareholders will receive net cash consideration of $95M at closing and $10M via a deferred cash payment in December 2020, which will be funded through a new $120M senior secured debt facility.

The transaction is expected to close early in the third quarter of 2019.

LOV closed at $11.90.

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Verrica Pharmaceuticals reports positive data on its molluscum contagiosum drug

Verrica Pharmaceuticals presents results from Phase 3 clinical trials of VP-102

Verrica Pharmaceuticals reports positive data on its molluscum contagiosum drug, Stockwinners

Verrica Pharmaceuticals (VRCA) presented data from the company’s pivotal Phase 3 CAMP-1 and CAMP-2 trials of lead product candidate, VP-102, at the American Academy of Dermatology annual meeting being held in Washington, DC from March 1-5.

Both trials of VP-102 in patients with molluscum contagiosum successfully met their primary endpoints.

In each trial, a clinically and statistically significant proportion of patients treated with VP-102 demonstrated complete clearance of all treatable molluscum lesions in 12 weeks.

On average, molluscum can take approximately 13 months to resolve without treatment, and in some cases can remain unresolved for several years.

The two randomized, double-blind, multicenter, placebo-controlled trials evaluated the efficacy of dermal application of VP-102 compared to placebo in subjects with molluscum.

In total, the trials enrolled 528 subjects two years of age and older with molluscum at 31 centers in the U.S. Subjects were treated once every 21 days with topical solution of 0.7% cantharidin for up to four applications.

Complete clearance of molluscum lesions was evaluated by assessment of the number of lesions at study visits over 12 weeks. Results from CAMP-1 and CAMP-2 showed 46% and 54% of subjects treated with VP-102, respectively, achieved complete clearance of all treatable molluscum lesions at the end of the trials versus 18% and 13% of subjects in the placebo groups.

By Day 84, VP-102 treated subjects had a 69% and 83% mean reduction in the number of molluscum lesions, a pre-specified endpoint, in CAMP-1 and CAMP-2 respectively, compared to a 20% increase and a 19% reduction for subjects on placebo. VP-102 was well-tolerated in both trials, with no serious adverse events reported in VP-102 treated subjects.

The most frequently reported adverse events were application site reactions that are well-known, reversible side effects related to the mechanism of action of cantharidin, a blistering agent, which is the active ingredient in VP-102.

There were no treatment-related serious adverse events reported in CAMP-1 or CAMP-2. Verrica previously announced topline results from both trials on January 3, 2019.

Based on the positive results, the company plans to submit a New Drug Application for VP-102 in the second half of 2019. If approved, VP-102 would be the first FDA-approved treatment for molluscum contagiosum.


Molluscum contagiosum is a relatively common viral infection of the skin, mainly in children, Stockwinners.com

VRCA closed at $12.11.

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Top Stories for weekend of February 22

U.S. extends trade talk deadline with China

As a result of these very… productive talks, I will be delaying the U.S. increase in tariffs now scheduled for March 1.

1. Using his Twitter account, President Donald Trump said that, “I am pleased to report that the U.S. has made substantial progress in our trade talks with China on important structural issues including intellectual property protection, technology transfer, agriculture, services, currency, and many other issues.

Assuming both sides make additional progress, we will be planning a Summit for President Xi and myself, at Mar-a-Lago, to conclude an agreement. A very good weekend for U.S. & China!”

2. Kraft Heinz (KHC) has tapped investment bank Credit Suisse to review options for its Maxwell House coffee business, which could include a potential sale, CNBC’s Lauren Hirsch reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Based off valuations for other sales of consumer brands, a sale could fetch a price of at least $3B, sources said.

3. While investors are cheering indications of progress being made toward a resolution of trade issues between China and the U.S., the battle for tech supremacy between the two global superpowers shows few signs of abating, Reshma Kapadia wrote in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Global chip makers remain highly reliant on China, which makes just 30% of the chips it actually needs, the publication noted.

Companies with revenue exposure to china include Qualcomm (QCOM), Micron (MU), Marvell Technology (MRVL), Broadcom (AVGO), NXP Semiconductors (NXPI), AMD (AMD), Maxim Integrated Devices (MXIM), Applied Materials (AMAT), Intel (INTC), Xilinx (XLNX), Skyworks (SWKS), Nvidia (NVDA), Analog Devices (ADI), Lam Research (LRCX), and KLA-Tencor (KLAC).

How to train your dragon top the box office, Stockwinners

4. Comcast (CMCSA; CMCSK) subsidiary Universal’s “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” won the weekend with a franchise-best launch of $55.5M from 4,259 theaters in North America, the top opening of the year so far. Overseas, the threequel earned another $34.7M from 53 market for a foreign total of $216.9M and $274.9M globally. The movie sports an audience grade of A and a 92% Rotten Tomatoes score.

5. Altria Group’s (MO) and WellCare Health (WCG) saw positive mentions in Barron’s, while Windstream (WIN) was mentioned cautiously.

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Tribune Media sold for $6.4 billion

Nexstar to acquire Tribune Media for $46.50 per share

Nexstar agrees to acquire Tribune Media, Stockwinners
Nexstar agrees to acquire Tribune Media, Stockwinners

Nexstar Media Group (NXST) and Tribune Media (TRCO) announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement whereby Nexstar will acquire all outstanding shares of Tribune Media for $46.50 per share in a cash transaction that is valued at $6.4B including the assumption of Tribune Media’s outstanding debt.
The transaction reflects a 15.5% premium for Tribune Media shareholders based on its closing price on November 30, 2018, and a 45% premium to Tribune Media’s closing price on July 16, 2018, the day the FCC Chairman issued a public statement regarding his intention to circulate a Hearing Designation Order for Tribune Media’s previously announced transaction with a third party.
Tribune Media shareholders will be entitled to additional cash consideration of approximately 30c per month if the transaction has not closed by August 31, 2019, pro-rated for partial months and less an adjustment for any dividends declared on or after September 1, 2019.
The transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies and is expected to close late in the third quarter of 2019, subject to receipt of required regulatory approvals and satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.
Upon closing, the transaction is expected to be immediately accretive to Nexstar’s operating results inclusive of expected operating synergies of approximately $160M in the first year following the completion of the transaction and planned divestitures.
The proposed transaction will combine two leading local media companies with complementary national coverage and will reach approximately 39% of U.S. television households pro-forma for anticipated divestitures and reflecting the FCC’s UHF discount.
The transaction is not subject to any financing condition and Nexstar has received committed financing for the transaction from BofA Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank. Completion of the transaction is subject to approval by Tribune’s shareholders, as well as customary closing conditions, including approval by the FCC, and satisfaction of antitrust conditions.

Nexstar intends to divest certain television stations necessary to comply with regulatory ownership limits and may also divest other assets which it deems to be non-core. All after-tax proceeds from such asset sales are expected to be applied to leverage reduction.


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Penn Virginia sold for $1.7 billion

Denbury Resources to acquire Penn Virginia in cash, stock deal valued at $1.7B

 

Penn Virginia sold for $1.7 billion, Stockwinners
Penn Virginia sold for $1.7 billion, Stockwinners

Denbury Resources (DNR) and Penn Virginia Corporation (PVAC) announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement pursuant to which Denbury will acquire Penn Virginia in a transaction valued at approximately $1.7B, including the assumption of debt.

The consideration to be paid to Penn Virginia shareholders will consist of 12.4 shares of Denbury common stock and $25.86 of cash for each share of Penn Virginia common stock.

Penn Virginia shareholders will be permitted to elect all cash, all stock or a mix of stock and cash, subject to proration, which will result in the aggregate issuance of approximately 191.6M Denbury shares and payment of $400M in cash.

The transaction was unanimously approved by the board of directors of each company, and Penn Virginia shareholders holding 15% of the outstanding shares signed a voting agreement to vote “for” the transaction.

Under the terms of the definitive merger agreement, shareholders of Penn Virginia will receive, subject to proration, a combination of 12.4 shares of Denbury common stock and $25.86 of cash for each share of Penn Virginia common stock, representing consideration to each Penn Virginia shareholder of $79.80 per share based on the closing price of Denbury common stock on October 26, 2018.

Penn Virginia shareholders will have the option to receive all stock or all cash, subject to proration such that the overall mix of consideration does not result in more or less than $400M in cash being paid.

The overall mix of consideration will be 68% Denbury common stock and 32% cash.

The stock portion of the consideration received by Penn Virginia’s shareholders is expected to be tax-free. Upon closing of the transaction, Denbury stockholders will own approximately 71% of the combined company, and Penn Virginia shareholders will own approximately 29%.

The transaction, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019, is subject to the approval of Penn Virginia shareholders and is subject to approval by Denbury’s stockholders of the issuance of common stock and an amendment to Denbury’s charter to increase its authorized shares.

The transaction is also conditioned on clearance under the Hart-Scott Rodino Act and other customary closing conditions.

The merger agreement contains a covenant that upon its closing, Denbury’s board will be expanded from eight directors to ten directors, to include two independent members of Penn Virginia’s board of directors who are mutually agreed upon by Denbury and Penn Virginia.


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Tesla jumps on results, upgrades

Tesla rises as analysts digest first profit in two years

Tesla Model 3 named Popular Mechanics' Car of the Year
Tesla Model 3 named Popular Mechanics’ Car of the Year

Shares of Tesla (TSLA) are on the rise after the company reported third quarter results, with a net profit of $312M, the electric-vehicle maker’s largest ever.

Tesla also said deliveries of its Model 3 grew to 56,000, adding that it “was the best-selling car in the U.S. in terms of revenue and the 5th best-selling car in terms of volume.”

Following the announcement, Wolfe Research analyst Dan Galves upgraded Tesla to Outperform, while several other firms raised their targets on the stock. Nonetheless, some Wall Street analysts remain bearish on Tesla, telling investors to “not get used to [this quarter’s profitability.]”

stockwinners.com/blog
Tesla jumps on results, upgrades – See Stockwinners Market Radar

RESULTS

Last night, Tesla reported third quarter adjusted earnings per share of $2.90 and revenue of $6.82B, both above consensus of (19c) and $6.3B, respectively.

The company said that, “Model 3 quarterly production and deliveries should continue to increase in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter.

Our target of delivering 100,000 Model S and X vehicles this year remains unchanged.

We expect gross margin for Model 3 to remain stable in the fourth quarter as manufacturing efficiencies and fixed cost absorption offset a slightly lower trim mix and the negative impact of tariffs from Chinese sourced components.

https://stockwinners.com/blog/
Stockwinners.com,Tesla jumps on results, upgrades

For all three vehicles, additional tariffs in the fourth quarter on parts sourced from China will impact our gross profit negatively by roughly $50M […] The third quarter of 2018 was a truly historic quarter for Tesla.

Model 3 was the best-selling car in the U.S. in terms of revenue and the 5th best-selling car in terms of volume.

With average weekly Model 3 production through the quarter, excluding planned shutdowns, of roughly 4,300 units per week, we achieved GAAP net income of $312M.”

WOLFE RESEARCH SAYS BUY TESLA

In a post-earnings research note, Wolfe Research’s Galves upgraded Tesla to Outperform from Peer Perform, with a $410 price target.

Saying that “Tesla became a real company,” the analyst argued that third quarter non-GAAP earnings of $2.90 and free cash flow of $881M are proof that Tesla’s earnings power is likely to outperform traditional automakers.

Management’s focus on cost and capital efficiency boosted Galves’ confidence that priorities have changed from unit growth at all cost to profitable growth and self-funding.

Further, the analyst argued that demand and margin outlook appear “very positive” and the fact that 50% of trade-ins on the Model 3 are non-luxury vehicles indicates the buyer base is likely bigger than expected.

Also bullish on the stock, Piper Jaffray analyst Alexander Potter raised his price target for Tesla to $396 from $389 as he believes the company reported a “milestone quarter,” with margins, earnings, and cash flow easily beating expectations.

While there is a still a lot of “hair” on the company, bears will struggle to poke holes in the results, Potter contended, adding that Tesla appears increasingly likely to achieve financial self-sufficiency.

The analyst reiterated an Overweight rating on Tesla shares. Oppenheimer, JMP Securities, and RBC Capital also raised their price targets on the stock.

‘DON’T GET USED TO IT’

Still bearish on Tesla shares, UBS analyst Colin Langan reiterated a Sell rating on the stock in a research note titled “Profitability at last, just don’t get used to it.”

The analyst continues to expect Model 3 average selling prices to decline into fourth quarter and 2019 as Tesla begins delivering the new $46,000 mid-range model.

Voicing a similar opinion, Needham analyst Rajvindra Gill told investors that while Tesla posted its first quarterly profit and positive free cash flow in over two years thanks to higher-margin Model 3 sales, he remains concerned over margin in the first half of 2019 given an “unfavorable mix shift of Model 3s, decline in ZEV sales, service margins stay in -35%-40% and pricing pressure on Model S/X.” Gill also questions the speed and profitability of Tesla’s production of a $45K car, “not to mention the $35K version”, in order to match its backlog of orders.

The analyst reiterated an Underperform rating on the shares.

PRICE ACTION

In Thursday’s trading, shares of Tesla have gained about 5% to $302.46.


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Peoples Natural Gas sold for $4.28 billion

Aqua America to acquire Peoples in all-cash transaction for $4.28B

Peoples Natural Gas sold for $4.28 billion, Stockwinners
Peoples Natural Gas sold for $4.28 billion, Stockwinners

Aqua America (WTR) announced it will acquire Peoples in an all-cash transaction that reflects an enterprise value of $4.275B, which includes the assumption of approximately $1.3B of debt.

This acquisition marks the creation of a new infrastructure company that will be uniquely positioned to have a powerful impact on improving the nation’s infrastructure reliability, quality of life and economic prosperity.

Peoples consists of Peoples Natural Gas Company LLC, Peoples Gas Company LLC and Delta Natural Gas Company Inc.

The multi-platform entity brings together the second-largest U.S. water utility and fifth-largest U.S. stand-alone natural gas local distribution company and will serve 1.74 million customer connections, which represent approximately 5 million people.

In 2019, the new company will have approximately $10.8 billion in assets and a projected U.S. regulated rate base of over $7.2 billion.

The transaction is not expected to have any impact on rates.

The combined enterprise will be among the largest publicly traded water utilities and natural gas local distribution companies in the U.S., uniquely positioned to meaningfully contribute to the nation’s natural gas and water infrastructure reliability.

The transaction will bring together two companies that each have more than 130 years of service and proven track records of operational efficiency, complementary service territories and strong regulatory compliance.

Aqua will acquire Peoples from infrastructure funds managed by Sausalito, California-based SteelRiver Infrastructure Partners.

The resulting company will be well positioned to grow and generate shareholder value through increased scale, a balanced portfolio and stable capital structure.


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Amarin sharply higher on data

Amarin soars after REDUCE-IT study meets primary endpoint

Amarin sharply higher on data, Stockwinners
Amarin sharply higher on data, Stockwinners

Amarin (AMRN) announced topline results from the Vascepa cardiovascular outcomes trial, REDUCE-IT, a global study of 8,179 statin-treated adults with elevated CV risk.

REDUCE-IT met its primary endpoint demonstrating an approximately 25% relative risk reduction, to a high degree of statistical significance, in major adverse CV events in the intent-to-treat patient population with use of Vascepa 4 grams/day as compared to placebo, Amarin said in a statement.

Patients enrolled in REDUCE-IT had LDL-C between 41-100 mg/dL controlled by statin therapy and various cardiovascular risk factors including persistent elevated triglycerides between 150-499 mg/dL and either established cardiovascular disease or diabetes mellitus and at least one other CV risk factor. Key topline results include approximately 25% relative risk reduction, demonstrated to a high degree of statistical significance, in the primary endpoint composite of the first occurrence of MACE, including cardiovascular death, nonfatal myocardial infarction, nonfatal stroke, coronary revascularization, or unstable angina requiring hospitalization.

This result was supported by robust demonstrations of efficacy across multiple secondary endpoints, the company said.

It added that Vascepa was well tolerated with a safety profile consistent with clinical experience associated with omega-3 fatty acids and current FDA-approved labeling.

The proportions of patients experiencing adverse events and serious adverse events in REDUCE-IT were similar between the active and placebo treatment groups.

Median follow-up time in REDUCE-IT was 4.9 years. Amarin said it is “eager to share REDUCE-IT data in greater detail with both the medical community and regulatory authorities.”

REDUCE-IT results have been accepted for presentation at the 2018 Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association on November 10, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois.

“We are delighted with these topline study results,” said John Thero, president and CEO of Amarin.

“Given Vascepa is affordably priced, orally administered and has a favorable safety profile, REDUCE-IT results could lead to a new paradigm in treatment to further reduce the significant cardiovascular risk that remains in millions of patients with LDL-C controlled by statin therapy, as studied in REDUCE-IT.”

It notes, “As previously described, given the successful topline results of REDUCE-IT, Amarin is in the process of increasing the number of company sales representatives promoting Vascepa to over 400 people in the United States.”

Shares of Amarin (AMRN) closed at $2.99, it last traded at $12.30.


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Incyte reports positive data

Incyte announces Phase 2b trial of ruxolitinib cream met primary endpoint

Incyte says REACH1 trial met primary endpoint, Stockwinners
Incyte reports positive data, Stockwinners

Incyte Corporation (INCY) announced positive results from its randomized, dose-ranging, vehicle- and active-controlled Phase 2b study evaluating ruxolitinib cream in patients with atopic dermatitis who are candidates for topical therapy.

The study, part of the True-AD clinical trial program, met its primary endpoint, demonstrating that ruxolitinib cream 1.5% administered twice daily significantly improved Eczema Area and Severity Index scores – a measurement of the extent and severity of AD – from baseline versus vehicle control at Week 4.

Additionally, treatment with ruxolitinib cream 1.5% BID resulted in a rapid and sustained reduction in itch versus vehicle, a key secondary endpoint.

These results were shared in an oral presentation today at the 27th European Academy of Dermatology and Venerology Congress in Paris, France.

Key study results included: Significantly improved EASI score in the ruxolitinib cream 1.5% BID arm versus vehicle at Week 4, the primary endpoint, and improvement in EASI score versus the active control, triamcinolone 0.1% cream, at Week 4, a secondary endpoint.

Significantly improved EASI scores in the ruxolitinib cream 1.5% BID arm versus vehicle at Weeks 2 and 8. Significantly greater changes in EASI score in the once daily ruxolitinib cream 1.5% and 0.5% arms versus vehicle at Week 4.

Significantly more Investigator’s Global Assessment responders – a measure of disease severity – in the ruxolitinib cream 1.5% BID arm versus vehicle at Week 4, and greater IGA response rates across other ruxolitinib arms versus vehicle.

Rapid and sustained reductions in itch numerical rating scale score observed as early as within two days from the initiation of therapy, and a more pronounced reduction in itch with ruxolitinib cream 1.5% BID and QD than with triamcinolone cream 0.1% BID.

Ruxolitinib cream was well-tolerated at all dosage strengths and was not associated with clinically-significant application site reactions.

All treatment-related adverse events were Grade 1 or Grade 2 in severity. Ruxolitinib cream is the first JAK1/JAK2 inhibitor to exhibit positive results as a topical monotherapy in the AD patient population.

Over-activity of the JAK signaling pathway has been shown to drive inflammation involved in the pathogenesis of AD.

These data support the planned initiation of a global, pivotal Phase 3 program, for which preparations are already underway.

INCY closed at $66.51.


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Yum China receives takeover offer

Yum China rises after reportedly spurning $46 per share takeover bid

Yum China receives takeover offer, Stockwinners
Yum China receives takeover offer, Stockwinners

Shares of Yum China (YUMC) are on the rise following a media report saying the company has rejected a buyout offer of $46 per share made by a consortium led by Hillhouse Capital.

Earlier this month, Bloomberg had reported that China’s sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corp., was part of the consortium bidding to take Yum China private.

BUYOUT OFFER REPORTEDLY REJECTED

Yum China has rejected a private buyout offer from a consortium of investors that valued the company at over $17B, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing a person familiar with the matter.

An investor group led by Hillhouse Capital Group in recent months offered to take the restaurant operator private at $46 per share, but the all-cash offer was turned down by the company’s board in recent weeks, source told the publication.

Last month, The Information had reported that Hillhouse Capital was in talks to acquire Yum China. The company operates over 8,000 KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants across mainland China.

A takeover led by Hillhouse would assist the company in accelerating its efforts to implement high-tech initiatives in its brick-and-mortar stores in order to attract Chinese millennials, the report pointed out.

CHINA INVESTMENT PART OF CONSORTIUM

Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that China’s sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corp., was part of the consortium bidding to take Yum China private.

The sovereign fund and DCP Capital, an investment fund run by former KKR (KKR) executives, are considering a buyout of Yum China, which runs KFC and Pizza Hut outlets, along with Hillhouse Capital, the publication added. Yum China spun off from Yum! Brands (YUM) in 2016.

PRICE ACTION

In tuesday’s trading, shares of Yum China trading in New York are off their earlier highs, but are trading up 3.8% to $37.14.


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Tesla’s going private is questioned by analysts

Tesla consolidates as analysts debate if Musk should take carmaker private

Shares of Tesla (TSLA) jumped yesterday after CEO Elon Musk said he would like to see the company go private, but have since stepped into negative territory as analysts debate the idea.

 

https://stockwinners.com/blog/
Tesla’s going private is questioned by analysts, Stockwinners

While Jefferies analyst Philippe Houchois believes going private “feels like the right thing to do,” his peer at Morgan Stanley questions the feasibility of Musk actually being able to achieve that goal.

TAKING TESLA PRIVATE

Yesterday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that he is considering taking the electric carmaker private.

 

In an email to the company’s employees, the executive explained: “Earlier today, I announced that I’m considering taking Tesla private at a price of $420/share. […] As a public company, we are subject to wild swings in our stock price that can be a major distraction for everyone working at Tesla, all of whom are shareholders. Being public also subjects us to the quarterly earnings cycle that puts enormous pressure on Tesla to make decisions that may be right for a given quarter, but not necessarily right for the long-term. Finally, as the most shorted stock in the history of the stock market, being public means that there are large numbers of people who have the incentive to attack the company.”

Tesla gets a boost from Bud. See Stockwinners.com
Tesla’s going private is questioned by analysts

Meanwhile, members of Tesla’s board said on Wednesday that they have “met several times over the last week” and are “taking the appropriate next steps to evaluate” Musk’s desire to take the company private. Their talks with Musk, which started last week, included “discussions as to how being private could better serve Tesla’s long-term interests, and also addressed the funding for this to occur,” the board members stated in a press release.

‘RIGHT THING TO DO’:

Commenting on the news, Jefferies’ Houchois told investors in a research note that the move “feels right” even if Musk is downplaying how supportive public markets have been. With Tesla unable to take on more debt, the analyst wonders who may fund the potential deal and end up as a new large shareholder. While the second quarter de-stressed the near-term outlook, Houchois pointed out that Tesla did not reassure about sustained demand for Model 3 at high prices and that profitability can support organic funding of investments in future products and manufacturing capacity.

He continues to think Tesla will need additional capital to fund these or risk being caught with a narrow and ageing product range within 2 years. Noting that his discounted cash flow fair value points to $300 per share, the analyst raised his price target on the stock to $360 from $250, “bridging the gap” to the $420 potential going private bid. The analyst reiterated a Hold rating on Tesla.

BUT WILL IT BE FEASIBLE?:

While Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas sympathizes with Elon Musk’s argument that Tesla could be better off as a private company, he questions the feasibility of the CEO actually being able to achieve that goal.
Taking the company private would assume either that the company is on the verge of generating self-sustaining cash flows or that it can tap into a range of strategic sources of capital not previously at its disposal, said Jonas, who sees strategic value at Tesla, but thinks the “LBO math required to support [a price of] $420 is extremely aggressive.”

Tesla Model 3 named Popular Mechanics' Car of the Year
Tesla Model 3 named Popular Mechanics’ Car of the Year

The benefits of being private are outweighed by the risks of added financial leverage, which could be even more strategically limiting, added Jonas, who reiterated an Equal Weight rating and a $291 price target on Tesla shares.
Meanwhile, his peer at JPMorgan raised his price target for Tesla to $308 from $195 to reflect the possibility of the company going private. However, analyst Ryan Brinkman told investors that he still believes that Tesla’s valuation based on fundamentals alone “is worth no more than $195” per share.
The analyst added that he is not as certain as CEO Elon Musk on Tesla going private, and assigns only a 50% probability to such a scenario, while reiterating an Underweight rating on the shares.

PRICE ACTION:

In Wednesday afternoon trading, shares of Tesla have dropped 1.6% to $373.63.


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US Foods to acquire SGA’s Food for $1.8B

US Foods to acquire SGA’s Food group of Companies for $1.8B 

US Foods to acquire SGA's Food for $1.8B, Stockwinners
US Foods to acquire SGA’s Food for $1.8B, Stockwinners

US Foods (USFD) and Services Group of America announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which US Foods will acquire five operating companies collectively known as SGA’s Food Group of Companies, for $1.8B in cash.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by US Foods’ Board of Directors.

Headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, SGA’s Food Group of Companies has combined 2017 net sales of $3.2B and approximately 3,400 employees.

SGA’s Food Group of Companies currently operates as five separate operating companies.

US Foods will finance the acquisition primarily with $1.5B in fully committed term loan financing from J.P. Morgan and Bank of America Merrill Lynch and will fund the balance of the purchase price through its existing liquidity resources.

At the closing of the acquisition, US Foods’ pro forma net leverage is expected to be 4.1x.

Given the combined company’s strong cash flow generation, including synergies, US Foods expects to reduce net leverage to approximately 3.0x by the end of fiscal 2020. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions.

US Foods expects to achieve approximately $55M in annual run-rate cost synergies by the end of fiscal 2022, primarily driven by savings in distribution, procurement and administrative expenses.

The purchase price reflects a multiple of 12.5x SGA’s Food Group of Companies 2018E Adjusted EBITDA of $123 million, after taking into account the approximately $260 million estimated present value of cash tax benefits to be realized as a result of the acquisition. Including $55M in annual run-rate synergies, the price reflects a 2018E Adjusted EBITDA multiple of 8.6x.

Excluding amortization, the transaction is expected to become accretive to US Foods’ Adjusted EPS in the second full year following closing.

USFD closed at $40.60.


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 Apollo in talks to acquire LifePoint Health

Apollo in advanced discussions to acquire LifePoint Health

Apollo in advanced discussions to acquire LifePoint Health, Stockwinners
Apollo in advanced discussions to acquire LifePoint Health, Stockwinners

Apollo Global (APO) is in advanced talks to buy LifePoint Health (LPNT), two people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday.

The deal could value LifePoint at nearly $6B, including debt, the sources said, adding that Apollo plans to combine LifePoint with RegionalCare Hospital Partners, another regional hospital operator that it owns.

If the negotiations are completed successfully, a deal could be announced as early as next week, the sources said, cautioning that it was possible talks could fail at the last minute. The sources asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential.

Rural healthcare providers such as LifePoint have been challenged in recent years because their reliance on federal insurers such as Medicare and Medicaid has made them particularly vulnerable to changing reimbursement programs. In addition, hospital operating costs have been rising faster than reimbursement rate increases.

Apollo, which raised a $24.6 billion private equity fund last year, acquired RegionalCare in 2015, and merged it with another hospital operator, Capella Healthcare, in 2016.

It would be by far the biggest acquisition for Apollo this year. LifePoint currently has a market capitalization of $1.9 billion and long-term net debt of $2.9 billion.

LPNT closed at $47.90.


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Zogenix sharply higher on data

Zogenix says primary endpoint achieved in second Phase 3 clinical trial of ZX008

Zogenix sharply higher on data, Stockwinners
Zogenix sharply higher on data, Stockwinners

Zogenix (ZGNX) reported positive top-line results from its second confirmatory Phase 3 study for its investigational drug, ZX008, for the treatment of children and young adults with Dravet syndrome.

Dravet syndrome is a rare, catastrophic, lifelong form of epilepsy that begins in the first year of life with frequent and/or prolonged seizures. Previously known as Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy of Infancy (SMEI), it affects one out of 15,700 individuals, 80% of whom have a mutation in their SCN1A gene.

The study results, which are consistent with those reported in Study 1, Zogenix’s first pivotal Phase 3 study, successfully met the primary endpoint and all key secondary endpoints, demonstrating that ZX008, at a dose of 0.5 mg/kg/day, is superior to placebo when added to a stiripentol regimen. Key Findings: Patients taking ZX008 achieved a 54.7% greater reduction in mean monthly convulsive seizures compared to placebo.

The median reduction in monthly convulsive seizure frequency was 62.7% in the ZX008 group compared to 1.2% in placebo patients. ZX008 also demonstrated statistically significant improvement versus placebo in both key secondary measures, including patients with clinically meaningful reductions in seizure frequency and longest seizure-free interval.

ZX008 was generally well-tolerated in this study with the adverse events consistent with those observed in Study 1 and the known safety profile of fenfluramine.

No patient exhibited cardiac valvulopathy or pulmonary hypertension at any time in the study.

Secondary endpoints assessed ZX008 compared to placebo in terms of the proportions of patients who achieved greater than or equal to 50% reductions and greater than or equal to 75% reductions in monthly convulsive seizures, as well as the median of the longest convulsive seizure-free interval.

ZX008 was generally well-tolerated in this study, with the adverse events consistent with those observed in Study 1 and the known safety profile of fenfluramine.

The incidence of treatment emergent adverse events was similar in both the treatment and placebo groups, with 97.7% of patients receiving ZX008 experiencing at least one treatment emergent adverse event compared to 95.5% of patients in the placebo group.

The most common adverse events in the ZX008 group were decreased appetite, diarrhea, pyrexia, fatigue, and nasopharyngitis.

The incidence of serious adverse events was similar in both the treatment and placebo groups, with 14% of patients in the ZX008 group experiencing at least one treatment emergent serious adverse event compared to 15.9% of patients in the placebo group. T

wo patients in the ZX008 group had an adverse event leading to study discontinuation compared to one in the placebo group.

ZGNX closed at $46.30, it last traded at $55.30.


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Celgene announces positive breast cancer data

Celgene announces IMpassion130 study meets co-primary endpoint of PFS

Celgene announces positive breast cancer data, Stockwinners
Celgene announces positive breast cancer data, Stockwinners

Celgene (CELG) announced that the Phase III IMpassion130 study met its co-primary endpoint of progression-free survival, or PFS.

This is the first phase III study to demonstrate a statistically significant PFS improvement in first-line metastatic or unresectable locally advanced triple negative breast cancer, or TNBC, a type of breast cancer with high unmet need.

Results demonstrated that the investigational combination of Tecentriq plus Abraxane compared to Abraxane monotherapy, as an initial treatment, significantly reduced the risk of disease worsening or death in patients with metastatic or unresectable locally advanced TNBC in the intention-to-treat and PD-L1 positive populations.

Overall survival is encouraging in the PD-L1 positive population at this interim analysis, and follow up will continue until the next planned analysis.

Safety in the Tecentriq plus Abraxane arm appeared consistent with the known safety profiles of the individual medicines, and no new safety signals were identified with the combination.

ABRAXANE is a microtubule inhibitor indicated for the treatment of:

Metastatic breast cancer, after failure of combination chemotherapy
for metastatic disease or relapse within 6 months of adjuvant
chemotherapy. Prior therapy should have included an anthracycline
unless clinically contraindicated.
• Locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC),
as first-line treatment in combination with carboplatin, in patients who
are not candidates for curative surgery or radiation therapy.
• Metastatic adenocarcinoma of the pancreas as first-line treatment, in
combination with gemcitabine.

TECENTRIQ is a prescription medicine used to treat:

A type of bladder and urinary tract cancer called urothelial carcinoma.

  • TECENTRIQ may be used when your bladder cancer:
    • has spread or cannot be removed by surgery, and
    • you are not able to take chemotherapy that contains a medicine called cisplatin, or
    • you have tried chemotherapy that contains platinum, and it did not work or is no longer working.

CELG closed at $83.85.


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